Ed Davey’s outside work as consultant is potential ‘conflict of interest’, Lib Dem MP admits

Lib Dem leader earns £78,000 a year as adviser to law firm and energy company, to ‘benefit my disabled son’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 08 November 2021 12:05
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Ed Davey’s outside work as a consultant is a potential “conflict of interest” a Liberal Democrat MP has acknowledged, ahead of a Commons debate on sleaze.

The Lib Dem leader earns an extra £78,000 a year, on top of his £81,932 salary as an MP, advising an international law firm and an energy firm – for working just 10 hours a month.

Sir Ed is one of only 2 non-Conservatives among around 30 MPs with second jobs as consultants, a role thrown into the spotlight by the Owen Paterson scandal.

The money is used to “benefit my disabled son”, he has declared in the Commons register of financial interests, through a company called Energy Destinations Ltd run by his wife Emily.

Wendy Chamberlain, the Lib Dem MP who has triggered the emergency sleaze debate, declined to say whether the party believed there should be a ban on such second jobs.

But she said: “I think we have to look at what the rules are now and I think we always have to look to be changing things.”

And she told BBC Radio 4: “There are definitely conflicts of interest that need to be considered and we have seen that.

“If that’s going to be appropriate that second jobs of any kind or description are done away with, that will be what the rules will be.”

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing, because MPs are allowed to be consultants – provided they do not actively lobby for companies, as Mr Paterson did.

A Lib Dem spokesman said: “Ed Davey has always been clear that any additional income he earns is to ensure there are funds available for his severely disabled son, who requires 24/7 support.

“The work Ed does is fully declared. transparent and within the rules. It involves providing expert advice on tackling the climate crisis.”

The Commons standards committee is considering whether to bar MPs from topping up their earnings as advisers, in a report to be published by Christmas.

The Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, is also considering a proposal to bar MPs from controversial outside interests – perhaps in return for MPs found guilty of breaking the rules having the right to appeal to a judge

The highest earners are all Tory former cabinet ministers. including Andrew Mitchell (£182,600 a year) and Julian Smith (£144,000), Chris Grayling (£100,000).

Sir Ed declares that he earns £60,000 a year for 72 hours work as a consultant on political issues and policy analysis to the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

He is also a member of the advisory board of Next Energy Capital, an investment and asset manager in solar power, earning a further £18,000 a year for working 48 hours.

It is highly unusual – possibly unprecedented – for the leader of a political party to top up their parliamentary earnings through such work.

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